The above photo is a rare look at the Vancouver Canucks’ offense against the Washington Capitals.
Know how on NHL.com you can click on a goal in a box score to see it play on NHL.tv? Head on over to the Vancouver/Washington box score and click on “Watch” next to Alex Edler’s goal. The 15-second clip shows not just the Canucks’ only goal of the night, but also their only offense. Almost literally.
Through the first two periods tonight, Vancouver put three shots on goal. Two in the first (the goal) and one in the second. ONE! It was honestly the most pathetic attempt at conjuring offense I’ve seen at the NHL level, ever. No exaggeration. How does Washington’s so-so defensive system hold any team, let alone a team that’s scored 11 goals in its first two games, to that little offense?
The fact that the embarrassment was broadcast on the Versus HD feed for 20 people to see made it somehow worse. Iain McIntyer summed it up best in the Vancouver Sun: “It was grotesque and bewildering, and in the context of the last month for the Canucks, we hardly know what to make of it. Besides kindling.”
It didn’t help that Alexander Semin and Mike Green seemed singlehandedly determined to shoot the puck every chance they got (the two combined for 11 shots, one more than the entire Vancouver roster), and three of those attempts went in. The padding provided by goals from Milan Jurcina and Michael Nylander, the latter on a salt-in-the-wounds penalty shot, was just the Caps’ way of kicking sand in the Canucks’ faces.
‘Course, it didn’t help that Alain Vigneault tinkered with the lineup that worked so magnificently against the Flames twice in three nights. First, he opted to swap out rough-and-ready Darcy Hordichuk, who admirably scrapped with Andre Roy and fired up the bench on Saturday, for the (theoretically) handsier Kyle Wellwood, who turned the puck over a couple of times and didn’t seem interested in anything resembling backchecking. Second, and this was obviously not his choice and thus not his fault, but Rob Davison was a poor substitute for Kevin Bieksa at the blue line.
Skill vs. Skill doesn’t work when the other team’s best skill player is Alex f’n Ovechkin. Ovechkin, though, was notable by his invisibility tonight. He registered three shots and no points against the Ohlund-Mitchell pairing, who, y’know, play physical, in 23-plus minutes of ice time.
Vancouver’s off until Thursday when they face another skill team, this time Detroit. Yeah, that’ll go well. Enjoy the puck-free practice tomorrow, boys.
St. Louis 5, Toronto 4 (SO)
The one play that turned this game was Ryan Hollweg boarding Alex Pietrangelo. Before that, Toronto was up 3-0 after an explosive first period against St. Louis’ continuously poor goaltending. But Brad Boyes cut into the lead 33 seconds into the middle period, and the Blues struck twice more during Hollweg’s five-minute major. Nicklas Hagman scored late in the frame to put the Leafs back up, but Paul Kariya’s pretty backhand helped the Blues forced OT. Boyes won it in the shootout with a nifty little move, but the damage was done the second Patrik Berglund scored the second goal of the five-minute power play. And that’s why the Leafs are going to be awful this year.
Buffalo 7, New York Islanders 1
Five different Sabres had multiple points, led by Jason Pominville and Ales Kotalik, who both had a goal and two assists. And Craig Rivet started a line brawl in the second period by coming into an already-ongoing fight. He’ll get nice and suspended for that. The only players on the ice at the time that didn’t fight: Andy Hilbert and Max Afinogenov. Sissies.
New York Rangers 4, New Jersey Devils 1
Hey, that Zherdev-Voros-Dubinsky line has to keep working forever, right? Two more goals tonight for Aaron Voros and another for Brandon Dubinsky. The Devils outshot their opponent once again (that’s three in a row), which I’m sure has to be a franchise record.
Montreal 5, Philadelphia 3
Montreal scored three straight third-period goals and Marty Biron blew it again (22 saves on 26 shots). No points for Tanguay tonight, but four Russian fellows — Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov — combined for seven points, so there’s that.
Detroit 3, Carolina 1
Took the time to watch this one. Detroit did what it was supposed to do here: controlled the game from the start and never really gave Carolina a chance to do much of anything. Carolina had just 15 shots through two periods (still more than the Canucks) while Detroit put together a two-goal lead. Cam Ward looked good despite the loss, making 33 saves on 35 shots.
Nashville 3, Chicago 2 (SO)
It was the Blackhawks’ first home game of the year, and they weren’t anything you could call impressive. Patrick Sharp had two points, but that was about it. Neither team seemed to have too great a desire to win this one. But hey, at least Dan Ellis’ save percentage is on the upswing!